October 11, 2019

25 Cincinnati Restaurants That Are Totally Worth the Wait

Despite the long lines, wait times or reservation struggles, these Queen City eateries live up to the hype. From top-notch fried chicken joints to bakeries slinging outstanding donuts and bustling brunch spots, these local eateries are absolutely worth the wait.
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Sugar n’ Spice
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Incline Public House
2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill
With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, this eatery boasts some spectacular views of the Queen City. The Incline Public House’s name is derived from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. This place can get packed on the weekends and evenings so make sure you are able to get there early for a seat. They do not take reservations, but you are welcome to call ahead to check if they are busy or to ask about accommodating large groups. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, salads, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers. Build your own pizza with toppings ranging from pepperoni and prosciutto to fried egg and oven-roasted tomato. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Incline Public House

2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill
With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, this eatery boasts some spectacular views of the Queen City. The Incline Public House’s name is derived from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. This place can get packed on the weekends and evenings so make sure you are able to get there early for a seat. They do not take reservations, but you are welcome to call ahead to check if they are busy or to ask about accommodating large groups. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, salads, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers. Build your own pizza with toppings ranging from pepperoni and prosciutto to fried egg and oven-roasted tomato.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Baker’s Table
1004 Monmouth St., Newport
Chef David Willocks calls the bread he bakes the canvas upon which his food appears. This hip brunch destination often has a line out the door for patrons waiting to try seasonal main courses or ever-popular options like biscuits and gravy with Eckerlin pork sausage, ricotta donuts with strawberry-lemon curd and eggs-in-a-hole. Everything is sourced locally with sustainability in mind. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Baker’s Table

1004 Monmouth St., Newport
Chef David Willocks calls the bread he bakes the canvas upon which his food appears. This hip brunch destination often has a line out the door for patrons waiting to try seasonal main courses or ever-popular options like biscuits and gravy with Eckerlin pork sausage, ricotta donuts with strawberry-lemon curd and eggs-in-a-hole. Everything is sourced locally with sustainability in mind.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Eagle
1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve 100 kinds of beer and have about 15 different brews on tap. It is repeatedly voted one of the best restaurants in the city by CityBeat readers, which makes getting a seat at the eatery tough, especially because they only have a limited number of tables available for reservation online. The fried chicken is free-range, all natural and sourced from Ohio farms. Opt for a whole, half chicken (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken (select white or dark). The spicy honey served with chicken is a must — try it on everything.
Photo via Facebook/TheEagleOTR

The Eagle

1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve 100 kinds of beer and have about 15 different brews on tap. It is repeatedly voted one of the best restaurants in the city by CityBeat readers, which makes getting a seat at the eatery tough, especially because they only have a limited number of tables available for reservation online. The fried chicken is free-range, all natural and sourced from Ohio farms. Opt for a whole, half chicken (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken (select white or dark). The spicy honey served with chicken is a must — try it on everything.
Photo via Facebook/TheEagleOTR
Nada
600 Walnut St., Downtown
Nada offers Modern Mexican in a vibrant and artfully-curated space. The popular eatery encourages guests to make a reservation via OpenTable or over the phone ahead of their visit. The menu features herby-fresh dishes like delicious dill-garnished lobster rolls wrapped in a bibb lettuce blanket, in addition to plenty of tasty tacos, shareables and large plates, including braised chicken enchiladas. It’s in a great location next to the Aronoff Center downtown, and the patio is a big attraction when nice weather beckons. 
Photo via Facebook/EatDrinkNada

Nada

600 Walnut St., Downtown
Nada offers Modern Mexican in a vibrant and artfully-curated space. The popular eatery encourages guests to make a reservation via OpenTable or over the phone ahead of their visit. The menu features herby-fresh dishes like delicious dill-garnished lobster rolls wrapped in a bibb lettuce blanket, in addition to plenty of tasty tacos, shareables and large plates, including braised chicken enchiladas. It’s in a great location next to the Aronoff Center downtown, and the patio is a big attraction when nice weather beckons.
Photo via Facebook/EatDrinkNada
Sotto
118 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati
Sotto is Cincinnati's hidden basement trattoria — a below-street-level Italian eatery, nestled underneath sister restaurant Boca on Sixth Street downtown. It’s a hot-spot for diners celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for some excellent pasta. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made woodfire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta, house-cured salami and big-ticket items like Bistecca Fiorentina, a grilled Creekstone porterhouse steak with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. Make a reservation in advance to ensure a spot or try to snag a seat at the bar. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sotto

118 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati
Sotto is Cincinnati's hidden basement trattoria — a below-street-level Italian eatery, nestled underneath sister restaurant Boca on Sixth Street downtown. It’s a hot-spot for diners celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for some excellent pasta. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made woodfire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta, house-cured salami and big-ticket items like Bistecca Fiorentina, a grilled Creekstone porterhouse steak with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. Make a reservation in advance to ensure a spot or try to snag a seat at the bar.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Sugar n’ Spice
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Eli’s BBQ
3313 Riverside Drive, East End
With outdoor seating and some Southern hospitality, this restaurant is a literal breath of fresh air. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket. Order your food inside and grab a seat (you might need to squeeze when the weather’s nice) at the picnic tables outside. The line to order may be long at times, but food tends to come out quickly.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Eli’s BBQ

3313 Riverside Drive, East End
With outdoor seating and some Southern hospitality, this restaurant is a literal breath of fresh air. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket. Order your food inside and grab a seat (you might need to squeeze when the weather’s nice) at the picnic tables outside. The line to order may be long at times, but food tends to come out quickly.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Bakersfield
1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield is OTR’s favorite taco joint. It’s typically a tough spot to get a seat, but if you’re willing to wait a little while, you will be rewarded with some top-notch tacos and arguably some of the best margs in the city. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo rojo, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old-fashioned way, not from a pre-made mix. They take reservations via OpenTable Sunday through Thursday; Fridays and Saturdays are first come, first served. 
Photo via Facebook/BakersfieldOTR

Bakersfield

1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield is OTR’s favorite taco joint. It’s typically a tough spot to get a seat, but if you’re willing to wait a little while, you will be rewarded with some top-notch tacos and arguably some of the best margs in the city. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo rojo, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old-fashioned way, not from a pre-made mix. They take reservations via OpenTable Sunday through Thursday; Fridays and Saturdays are first come, first served.
Photo via Facebook/BakersfieldOTR
Sleepy Bee
3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash
At Sleepy Bee, everything from their sammies to their scrambles are top-notch and delightfully tasty even when you yourself are a bit of a sleepy weekend bruncher. If you plan to stop by during peak brunch or lunch hours, be prepared to wait. Standouts include the specialty pancakes, like the blue cakes full of blueberries with a maple-blueberry sauce, as well as the light and lovely Bumblebee’s breakfast, a yogurt granola bowl with tasty apricot coulis and tahini. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sleepy Bee

3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash
At Sleepy Bee, everything from their sammies to their scrambles are top-notch and delightfully tasty even when you yourself are a bit of a sleepy weekend bruncher. If you plan to stop by during peak brunch or lunch hours, be prepared to wait. Standouts include the specialty pancakes, like the blue cakes full of blueberries with a maple-blueberry sauce, as well as the light and lovely Bumblebee’s breakfast, a yogurt granola bowl with tasty apricot coulis and tahini.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger